An IndyCar powered by Chevy’s specialized 2.2 liter V6 engine has won four of the last five IZOD IndyCar Series races this season. In fact, cars cradling the engine — GM’s first in the series since 2004 — straight up dominated St. Petersburg when six of the first eight finishers ran the GM powerplant. But what do consumers get out of a Chevy engine competing in IndyCar? According to Mark Kent of GM Performance Vehicles and Motorsports group, there will be carryover to production cars:
“Going four-for-four at the racetrack and winning the Louis Schwitzer award has exceeded our expectations, but the ultimate goal for this project has always been to develop powerful fuel-efficient engine technologies that could be transferred to production cars,” said Kent before the week before the Indy 500 race. “Racing has always been a great proving ground for advanced powertrain technologies, and this IndyCar V-6 is no exception.”
The “Louis Schwitzer” Kent is referring to is the prize awarded to Kent and colleague Matt Wiles. The award, now in its 46th running, recognizes individuals for innovation and engineering excellence in the field of race car design specifically related to the annual Indianapolis 500 race. The engine’s development team consisted of contributors from the GM Global Advanced & Race Engine Engineering Group, Ilmor Engineering, Hitachi and the Chevrolet IndyCar teams.
The Chevy IndyCar engine is currently run by Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, KV Racing Technology, Ed Carpenter Racing, Panther Racing, Dragon Racing, and Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The twin-turbo direct-injected 2.2 liter V6 mill, which makes the most power at a stratospheric 12,000 RPM, is currently the highest-revving direct injected engine in the IndyCar rivalry; and according to GM, some of the DI turbo capability found in the mill will also power the new 2.0 liter turbo-charged Ecotec LTG motor in the upcoming 2013 Chevy Malibu good for 259 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.
But our question is this: how and when will Chevy begin leveraging its expertise in race car engines and carrying the learnings to street cars — for people who truly care about the engine and the car’s performance. It’s safe to say that your average Malibu buyer couldn’t care less about the fact that components in his or her engine are shared with or are similar to those found in an IndyCar… right? After all, we’re talking about mainstream mid-size family sedans here, not compact performance machines.
So if the goal is and always has been to “develop powerful fuel-efficient engine technologies” that carry over to production cars, wouldn’t the most effective use of that development aptitude consist of giving the people who truly care about high-power motors and exhilarating performance what they want? If so, then a boosted motor in your average bread-and-butter midsize family sedan is a start, but is still a far cry from what those following IndyCar and rooting for Chevy-powered machines really desire. Neither is a roaring, rumbling, and hefty small block (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Ultimately, technology has evolved to such a point that the small IndyCar V6 is rumored to make upwards of 800 horsepower. And I’d love to see this kind of technology carry over to production vehicles that matter (compacts and subcompacts, for instance), even if only half of that power makes the cut.